You couldn’t write this stuff! Last Thursday The Rev’d Dr Boris Gunjević was installed as Tutor at Westfield House. This is a permanent position – a called position in the ELCE. Thursdays are the day when daily chapel is at 5:00pm and not in the morning before class. Last Thursday was the last Thursday of the term. Last Thursday was the feast day of St Joseph, the guardian and protector of Jesus and Mary. This feast day is of special significance in some countries. One of those countries is Croatia. Boris is from Croatia. Another country is Canada. The preacher for the service – and Westfield House Preceptor – was The Rev’d Dr Joel Humann. He’s from Canada. Joseph is regarded as special to or in touch with workers as he is also a faithful obedient servant of God who trusts what God says (to take Mary as his wife). Boris is called to teach students – workers in many walks of life – to know and be obedient to God’s Word. Of course the sermon didn’t write itself but we all smiled as all these factors were brought to our attention when the date for the installation was chosen to fit in with ELCE Chairman Jon Ehlers’ schedule and before the end of term!
Where do you find meaning? Is there such a thing as coincidence?
Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder so also are meaning and purpose – why we get up in the morning for starters – but also the ‘big picture’ stuff – why am I here?
If we’re only sophisticated animals then we might be content to just eat, sleep, and reproduce and try and live a long life but our art and culture and music suggest that we have values and sensibilities beyond that of daily existence. The religions of the planet suggest a search for meaning – to understand life – and to see it – and live it – in broader terms than what we see and experience. Secularism – Humanism today (not the Christian Humanism of the Renaissance) – asserts that we determine our own meaning through being the best human we can be in a world that is determined by the senses, science, and empiricism. And there is a lot to commend this – after all, we live our lives largely this way. But it doesn’t answer all aspects of our life. In the forthcoming election campaign voters will be ‘courted’ by politicians who will claim to hold the political, economic, and social meanings for our communal living. The history of the changes in government tell us that the voters are still seeking the best answers.
We live in a liberal democracy and at a time (others today live in much more restrictive environments) where there are a potpourri of meanings and answers, certainties and uncertainties, belief and knowledge, faith and reason where religion, society, political systems, art and culture seem to evolve, adapt, and change – to make matters more complex! Many people today simply don’t know what to believe!
And that is where the followers of Jesus can speak – respectfully – about the person who gives them meaning – Jesus. Christians don’t promote a religion so much as a relationship – that doesn’t so much give ‘all the answers’ but presents a message of love – God’s love for us which then can shape and guide our love – our love for ourselves, our love for those around us, and even our love for our enemies. This love of God is located in Jesus, declared in God’s Word, and found (imperfectly) in the Church – and so individually and congregationally – Christians find meaning for life from how to get through today to what happens when we die. Coincidences are in the eye of the beholder – and so is so much of living today – but one thing Christians stake their lives on is a cross nearly 2000 years ago and the man who died on it and who lives again. — GS